It is difficulty to diagnose a baby with cerebral palsy. Many times a child will be one or two years of age before an official diagnosis can be obtained. Of course, the earlier the diagnosis the better. Physical and Occupational therapy can begin even as babies – all the better for your child.
If your child had complications at childbirth, medical equipment or additional training may be required to take your child home.
My son had difficulty breathing at birth and we brought home a heart monitor that was on 24 hours a day. Michael was tube fed the first two weeks because he did not have the natural instinct to suck. It came gradually but feeding could take hours for just a couple of ounces. The hospital also required that we had infant CPR training. Grandparents were required to take the training as well.
My son Michael had a bad case of colic. He cried constantly. Several tests were ran, but nothing ever helped. We had to tough it through.
The only comfort Michael had was his swing. He loved his swing! I put the swing next to the bed each night for him to sleep. Every 20 minutes he cried when it stopped and I would rewind it – I wish the battery powered swing had been invented at that time!
It was difficult to change diapers. The legs were very tight and they "scissored". This means the legs are very stiff and crisscross each other in a scissoring fashion. Scissoring would also occur when lifting him in the air at the waist. At times, his whole body would stiffen and he would throw himself backwards. He especially liked to hold his neck in an upward fashion and seemed to always be looking at the sky or ceiling.
Children with cerebral palsy do not progress as other children do and will show delays. Common concerns or signs a parent will begin to notice will be when their child is not sitting, crawling, or reaching at the appropriate age. It will be especially noticeable when placing the infant along with other infants of the same age. Whenever I questioned my son's progression, I looked at my friends and their babies as a guide.
The first insight into my son's health issues actually came from our public school system, not the doctors. Look for health care professionals, organizations, and school systems who have experience with disabilities. We look to them even now. These professionals work with individuals every day with a variety of disabilities and they can recognize early signs. They can give guidance and many times will be able to explain and prepare you for the next stage. They are not doctors and they can not give you medical advice, but many times they can share their experiences with you.
Remember, persistence pays off. It's okay to get a second or third opinion. The sooner your child receives assistance, the better.